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Dallas Trucker Talks About Time In Mexican Prison

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A North Texas trucker arrested after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with 268,000 bullets said Wednesday that he feared for his safety during seven months in a Mexican prison with nine people in a cell with only five beds.

Jabin Bogan, 27, said he slept on the floor for most the time. He worried the Spanish-speaking inmates around him were conspiring to hurt him, although none ever physically attacked him.

During a press conference in downtown Dallas Bogan gave new details about his release. He returned to the U.S. on Friday after being freed from prison the week before.  “I have my days where I’m back over there thinking I’m over there. I know I’m home though,” he said.

He has said he was on his way to Phoenix to deliver the ammunition in April, when he took a wrong turn. He was arrested in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, and convicted of possession of military ammunition. He was sentenced to three years in prison but that was later commuted to time served and a fine.

Bogan’s U.S. attorney, Larry Taylor, said about $5,000 in donations covered a fine paid to Mexican authorities and fees for an attorney there.

Taylor and Bogan declined to say whether Mexican authorities had banned him from returning to the country.

Bogan said he relied on a cellmate who spoke Spanish to navigate prison life. Otherwise, he said, it was “like me against 10,000 people.” He said he did not see any other black Americans in the prison.

He said he didn’t eat prison food at first and eventually made it through his time by imagining that what he was being served was a cheeseburger or slice of pizza. His first meal on the plane ride home was from Burger King.

Bogan said he was first told an investigation would take two days.

“Forty-eight hours turned into seven months,” he said.

Mexican authorities have tried to crack down on smuggling of weapons and ammunition across the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has blamed U.S. gun laws for allowing weapons to flow into Mexico, where rival drug cartels are fighting a bloody war.

But Mexican customs agents contradicted prosecutors’ claims at Bogan’s Mexican trial that he had hidden the bullets under the floorboards of his 18-wheeler’s trailer. Bogan had tried to make a U-turn, but was stopped by customs.  “They asked me all kinds of questions and next thing you know, I was in handcuffs,” he said.

An appeal filed in August by Bogan’s lawyer in Mexico, Emilio de la Rosa, reduced the charge from smuggling to possession of military ammunition. That reduced Bogan’s sentence and allowed him to get supervised release, which he can do by mail.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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